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Outdoors Digest

By Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Calendar

Through Jan. 31 – Texas East Zone light and dark goose season.

Through Jan. 31 – Oklahoma pheasant season.

Through Jan. 31 –Second split of the Texas North Zone duck season.

Through Jan. 31 – Second split of Oklahoma Zone 2 duck season.

Through Jan. 31 – Texas woodcock season.

Through Feb. 7 – Second split of Oklahoma white-fronted goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Second split of Oklahoma light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Texas West Zone light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 15 - Oklahoma quail season.

Through Feb. 28 – Texas quail season.

Through Jan. 23 – SHOT Show New Product Premiere TV shows on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.

Feb. 5 - TPWD rainbow trout stocking at Denison's Waterloo Lake Park Pond.

Notes

Don’t forget that the 17th annual Family Fellowship Trout Derby is coming up soon at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond. The derby is being held on Saturday, Feb. 6 and will be right after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks more than 1,500+ catchable size rainbow trout.  For information, call Denison Parks and Rec at (903) 463-1115 or visit the City of Denison’s website at www.cityofdenison.com... The 2020 MLF World Championship will be broadcast Sunday (Jan. 24) at 12 p.m. CT on CBS. A report from BassFan.com says that the event, shot over six days in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, showcases 16 MLF pro anglers culminating the 2020 Cup season and competing for a top prize of $100,000…One of the more interesting bass tournaments this spring in Texas will be on March 13 when kayak anglers take to legendary Lake Fork during the spring spawn. That event will happen when the 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series, powered by Tourney X, visits the Alba, Texas area near Fork… Because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns last spring, TPWD says that the 24th annual Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) took place in the fall last year for the first time in the event’s history. Despite the postponement, the agency says that the event garnered a record 138 teams registered with a total of 650 participants across the state. Meanwhile, TPWD says that money raised through 2020 team registrations and sponsorships made it possible for the GTBC to award $34,000 in Conservation Grants. That brings the 24-year tournament total to $1,027,000 in on-the-ground habitat acquisition, restoration and enhancement projects. “It is truly remarkable and gratifying to top the $1 million mark after 24 years of work,” said Shelly Plante, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department nature tourism manager, in a news release. “From the beginning, we wanted a way to not only encourage birding in friendly competition, but to also raise money to restore and protect natural habitat for birds and people.”… TPWD says that a total of 357 species were identified during the GTBC by all 138 teams. A complete list of final tournament results can be found on the GTBC website. FYI, the Austin-based agency says that the GTBC is made possible by sponsorship and registration fees and donations from event sponsors including Toyota, Texas Ornithological Society, Swarovski Optik, N.A., and the awards ceremony sponsor, Audubon Texas…

Hunting Report

Duck season is winding down on both sides of the Red River as the end of the month closing date approaches on the calendar. Also approaching the season’s Jan. 31st end are hunting campaigns for Oklahoma pheasants, woodcock in East Texas, and Texas East Zone light and dark geese…As the 2020-21 season wanes, late season hunting tips include limiting your calling, reducing your decoy spread sizes, using clear Texas-rigged decoy lines, avoid leaving too many boot tracks around the blind or in the water, picking up spent shells and trash around your blind, and making sure that you are hidden well as birds fly overhead and check things out… In recent days, gadwalls, wigeons, mallards and a few divers are showing up on local duck straps… Dakota Stowers and his North Texas Outfitters guides are working hard as January runs its course and they continue to put many clients on limit and near limit shoots. But Stowers admits that this has been a challenging season. “This season has been tough on hunters in North Texas and southern Oklahoma,” he said. “We’ve consistently stayed on birds (through daily scouting), but we’ve been shooting mostly gadwalls, or gray ducks, as many hunters call them.” Stowers added that the Canada goose hunting has been exceptional this season, and that’s been a real savior on some days. “It seems to me like we are still stuck in November. It never really got cold up north, so mallards and late season birds are staging up around Nebraska and Kansas. As long as it doesn’t freeze up there, they really have no reason to leave with open water and food around.”…To back up Stowers point, looking at recent social media account posts like those from Ryan Livingston’s and Jake Latendresse’s Prairie Rock Outfitters in western Nebraska, there are still loads of mallards up north as late January arrives on the calendar…As the 2020-21 duck season approaches its Jan. 31 end in both North Texas and southern Oklahoma, the start of the reverse migration back north appears to be underway. Despite the recent heavy snowfall in parts of Central and East Texas, a number of pintails are starting to show up locally. Stowers’ NTO guides have reported seeing several big flocks of sprigs during hunts over the last week out near Waurika, Okla., so consider adding a few pintail blocks to your late season decoy rig… Texas hunters who took a big whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, or first big game animal harvest during the 2020-21 season are reminded that the postmark deadline to enter this year’s Texas Big Game Awards Program is March 1. For information, visit www.texasbiggameawards.org...

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma, water is stained; water temp is 47 degrees; and the lake is 1.13 high. TPWD reports that striped bass are fair on shad-imitating swimbaits and live bait. White bass are fair on slabs and spoons. Largemouth bass are slow for those fishing soft plastic swimbaits, deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, and flutter spoons in 15-30’ of water. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs fished near boathouses, sunken timber, creek ledges, and brush piles in 15-28’ of water. Catfish are fair on fresh cut bait and punch bait… Staying at Lake Texoma, ODWC reports that winter fishing is still very good. Striped bass are good on Alabama-rigs, Flukes and live shad fished in schools in the main lake, around points and in the river channel. Striped bass are being caught on the western part of the lake as they stage for the coming spawn and ODWC says that live shad is still one of the best ways to catch these fish. Meanwhile, blue catfish are good on cut bait, live shad and sunfish fished along creek channels, in the main lake and the river channel. Blue cats are still being caught around 40-50 ft. of water on juglines as well….At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 51st Bassmaster Classic from June 11-13, water is lightly stained; water temp is 49 degrees; and the lake is 0.46 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are slow on drop shots, jerkbaits, and jigs fished near drop-offs, submerged timber, points, and deep creeks. White bass are slow in 15-35’ on slabs fished near main lake points, flats, and drop-offs. Crappie are slow on minnows and small jigs in brush piles and cover between 18-28’ depths…At Lake Fork, water is stained; water temp is 50 degrees; and the lake is 0.88 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are fair on spoons, green or black finesse worms, crankbaits, and brown/green flipping jigs fished near deep points, roadbeds, brush piles, timber, and rocky shorelines. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs fished in 14-28’ depths in brush piles and standing timber near creek ledges or drop-offs… At Lake of the Arbuckle’s near Sulphur, lake elevation is normal; water temp is 71; and the water is clear. ODWC reports that bass are fair on Alabama-rigs, soft plastic worms, jigs and Ned rigs…At the Blue River near Tishomingo, river elevation is normal; water temp is 40 degrees; and the water is clear. ODWC reports that rainbow trout are good on garlic scented Power Bait and gold spoons. For fly anglers, midges and nymph patterns are best this week. Look for trout to be along creek channel braids, near rocks, and above and below waterfalls in the stream… If a mid-winter trip to the Texas Gulf Coast sounds good right about now, bring the fishing rods and fly rods along if you're heading to South Padre Island. At SPI, TPWD reports that redfish are good on the flats for those fishing bottom rigs with live bait. For fly anglers, look for Clouser minnows and crab patterns as possibilities. Meanwhile, as gator trout season approaches next month for some of the biggest speckled trout of the year, TPWD says that speckled trout are good and will be in the deeper water and the edges of the ICW. Finally, flounder are fair around the rocks on mullet or minnow…

Tip of the Week

After last week’s online and TV coverage for this year’s virtual ATA Archery Trade Show, Outdoor Sportsman Group has turned its new product attention this week to the virtual presentation of the 2021 SHOT Show. OSG is covering this year’s SHOT Show through online content at OutdoorChannelPlus.com, GameandFishMag.com, and GunsandAmmo.com among others. You can also tune in later today and tomorrow for the final episodes of SHOT Show New Product Premiere TV programs that have been airing all week on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.